Wild at Heart

Monday, March 27 - Tuesday, April 4, 2017

35mm print!

“Imagine The Wizard Of Oz with an oversexed witch, gun-toting Munchkins and love ballads from Elvis Presley, and you’ll get some idea of this erotic hellzapoppin from writer-director David Lynch. Lynch’s kinky fairy tale is a triumph of startling images and comic invention. In adapting Barry Gifford’s book Wild at Heart for the screen, Lynch does more than tinker. Starting with the outrageous and building from there, he ignites a slight love-on-the-run novel, creating a bonfire of a movie that confirms his reputation as the most exciting and innovative filmmaker of his generation.

“All that’s left of the book is a chunk of pungent dialogue. Lynch dramatically alters the characters, adds liberally from his own wickedly demented imagination, pumps up the violence and erotica, throws in a Toto look-alike, a good and a bad witch and the ruby slippers from The Wizard of Oz and then watches the sparks fly. Though lacking the organic clarity of Blue Velvet, Wild at Heart is a breathtaking display of movie magic that steadily tightens its hypnotic hold. Lynch, the man who shook TV by exposing the pits of cherry-pie America in Twin Peaks, revels in finding the logic in the random, the beauty in the broken. He’s a cockeyed pessimist, both appalled and thrilled by the dark secrets he uncovers.

“The story, which begins in North Carolina, revolves around the love of Sailor Ripley (Nicolas Cage) and Lula Pace Fortune (Laura Dern). ‘Jeez Louise, Sailor,’ says Lula after one of their marathon sex bouts, ‘you are something else.’ Sailor is equally besotted. Between the sex and the chain-smoking, these two seem in danger of burning themselves down. ‘You really are dangerously cute, Peanut,’ he tells Lula as she paints her toenails red before doing the same to the town. They’re just two sweet, horny kids, except for their Lynch-load of psychological baggage. Raped at thirteen by her father’s business partner, Lula has a monster mother, Marietta (Diane Ladd), who arranged to have Lula’s father killed in a fire. And Sailor, despite his tender way with a Presley ballad (‘Treat me like a fool/Treat me mean and cruel/But love me’), has a hidden past and a rebel streak. He wears a snakeskin jacket as ‘a symbol of individuality and my belief in personal freedom.’ But his hot temper has a way of crimping his options.

“At a dance hall, Marietta makes a lewd proposition to Sailor in a toilet. When he rejects her, she dispatches a hood to gut him. Sailor bashes the man’s head in, not once but repeatedly — Lynch is not one to skimp on the gore. Convicted of manslaughter, Sailor spends the next twenty-two months and eighteen days in prison. When his parole finally comes, the faithful Lula is waiting. They hop in her car and hit the road for California, encountering a mysterious collection of grotesques along the way. Recalling their favorite movie, they lament that ‘it’s too bad we couldn’t visit the Wizard of Oz to get good advice.'” – Peter Travers, Rolling Stone

Screening as part of The Films of David Lynch.

  • Country USA
  • Rating R
  • Year 1990
  • Director David Lynch

IFC Center does not generally provide advisories about subject matter or potentially triggering content in films, as sensitivities vary from person to person. In addition to the synopses, trailers and other links on our website, further information about content and age-appropriateness for specific films can be found on Common Sense Media, IMDb and DoesTheDogDie.com as well as through general internet searches.